I took some convincing before I joined Twitter, then even more to make use of it properly. In the end, what tipped me into regular usage (read: the slippery slope) was my aim to bring the Asian Australian Studies Research Network into the brave new world of social media. I’d set up the research network’s Facebook group and had some stuff happening there, but realised that ignoring Twitter was silly.

So, I gave it a red hot go…

And now I’m hooked.

There are reams of articles/posts written about the way people form their networks and how Twitter and/or Fb facilitate the process. Constance Wiebrands (@flexnib) echoes my take on it in her post from last December, “Thoughts on Twitter“. While I don’t think enough of my friends are on Twitter (my longest-serving buddies are totally disinterested in things techy *sad face*), I’ve been excited that it has connected me with new batches of people (in personal as well as professional networks) and has become my primary news feed. Yes, my primary newsfeed. I used to surf around The Age‘s website, but no more. All my news now comes from @SBSNews (and other tweeps), often before ‘standard’ news programs and publications.

Also a delightful surprise – this will sound appallingly naive – is the way it has enhanced the blogging-readership-commentary circuit. I’m more likely to follow a new post link in a twit-stream than remember to check my blog’s roll (I can’t abide the compilation feeds – yet another set of passwords, etc). It’s also nice to be able to tweet about a new blog entry and know that at least a handful of people will be interested enough to read it.

Part of the urge to engage with social media on behalf of the research network was to share the masses of information generated by our membership and its activities with a broader range of people. It was fairly depressing spending time updating the website and e-list, and knowing that maybe – maybe – 3-5 people might go and check it out. This problem stems from the ‘closed’ nature of the network, which was part of the founding process’ structure, but that’s a whole other can of worms. Now, I can see the AASRN-specific information that goes out on Twitter hopping across to other streams and media; it garners a much wider audience these days and makes it feel more worthwhile to generate and maintain information/connections.

Finally, Constance notes in her 4th point that she likes knowing what the weather’s like around the world and, more specifically, that “learning about others’ workdays, family, illness, stress, joys, accomplishments – this is not trivial”. I used to spout that cliche about how useless Twitter was because, wasn’t it just people tweeting about what they had for lunch?! Well, ahem…now I find that people telling me what they had for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, supper, whatever, is FAB. I love it. I also love the number of people who tweet about meal prep, hunting certain foods, favourite markets/finds – the whole gamut of sharing food, heritage and ethics. At a time in my life when I don’t get the pleasure of much ‘everydayness’ with buddies and colleagues because of domestic commitments, it’s a dose of social familiarity that keeps me happy.